Radxa Rock Pi 4 Review – Part 1: A First Look at RockPi 4B Performance Set

Rock Pi 4 ReviewHey, Karl here with another RK3399 board. This one is by Radxa and is called the Rock Pi 4. There are 2 main variants to this board and I was shipped the B version “performance set” which includes a power supply, heatsink, and acrylic case. Also shipped was 16gb eMMC 5.1 module, eMMC flashing board, and USB-TTL debug cable. It looks like the difference is the B version has AC wifi and GbE LAN with PoE support with a hat. The A version only has GbE.

Rock Pi 4B Performance Set Unboxing

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
Rock Pi 4 Performance Set – Click to Enlarge

Some of the more notable specs

  • eMMC module support
  • M.2 NVME SSD support (SATA not supported)
  • HDMI 2.0 4k@60htz
  • MIPI DSI 2 lanes via FPC connector
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • MIPI CSI 2 lanes via FPC connector, support up to 8MP camera
  • 802.11 ac wifi
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 40-pin expansion header :
    •  1 x UART
    • 2x SPI bus
    • 2x I2C bus
    • 1x PCM/I2S1
    • 1x SPDIF
    • 1 x PWM
    • 1x ADC
    • 6x GPIO
    • 2x 5V DC power in
    • 2 x 3.3V power pin
    • USB PD – Support USB Type C PD 2.0, 9V/2A, 12V/2A, 15V/2A, 20V/2A
    • Qualcomm Quick Charge – Support QC3.0/2.0 adapter, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A

Chips

  • RK808-D looks like it is the standard power delivery chip for the RK3399
  • AP6256 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 5.0
  • RTL8211E provides gig ethernet
  • NCLD4C2MA512 Memory
  • ES8316 Low Power Audio CODEC
  • LDR6015SS USB Type C

I apologize I could not read some of the chips regardless of the angle.

Raspberry Pi Compatibility

The RockPi 4 has an identical footprint as the Raspberry Pi. I tried to install in a Raspberry Pi case that I have. It fits but it would have to be modified to allow the heatsink to protrude out the back due to the processor being located on the back of the board. They improved several things over the Raspberry Pi in my opinion. Power delivery, option to use eMMC instead of an SD card, and upcoming M.2 for storage. I’ve had issues with power delivery and SD cards on the Raspberry Pi when using for projects. So far the Rock Pi has been solid. The Raspberry Pi camera and display are both supported.

Rock Pi 4 Firmware Images

5 images are currently available to flash. With 2 more in the works

  • Provided by Radxa
    • Android TV
    • Android
    • Debian Desktop
    • Ubuntu Server
  • Third-Party
    • Armbian 5.67
    • LibreElec (coming soon)
    • Recalbox (coming soon) I had to look this one up it is an emulator

Flashing is easy with Etcher and I had no issues on the ones I have looked at so far.

Final Thoughts

A lot of additional information can be found here. All the pinouts. Flashing instructions. OS Images. Some additional information can be found here. I will follow up with individual firmware findings.

Finally. Last week when I was looking up information I was really surprised to see that there are almost 150 SBC’s on the market. Whoa. It seems like they are throwing everything they can at the wall and seeing what sticks. I am not sure any board will capture the imagination like the Raspberry Pi. The RockPi 4 seems to have got a lot of things right at least from my perspective and initial review.

It looks like Allnet has exclusive selling rights on these.

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29 Replies to “Radxa Rock Pi 4 Review – Part 1: A First Look at RockPi 4B Performance Set”

  1. looks like a very nice board! I should play with all my other boards lying around here before buying it, but I’m afraid I won’t 🙂

    1. Thank you Robert for the links! I instantly bought one… and am wondering if I should buy a second one for my mom?

      This board should work good together with a DVB-T2 HAT for the Raspberry Pi in order to deliver 265 HD to a MediaCenter like OSMC or such, right? The Raspberry cannot display 265 HEVC being broadcasted in germany.

      (…and my mom is unhappy with her DVB-box without recording options;)

      1. > This board should work good together with a DVB-T2 HAT for the Raspberry Pi

        Only if you manage to get the SPI port up in a similar way and have CXD2880 drivers ready.

  2. Some correction.

    > AP6256 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO with dual stream in 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.1

    AP6256 is not 2×2 MIMO, it’s single steam and antenna, Bluetooth is 5.0.

    All models are equipped with LPDDR4 up to 3200Mb/s from Foresee(from Micron actually). Currently the DDR controller is limited to 933Mhz and gives 1866Mb/s data rate. Once the LPDDR4 support adds on the mainline u-boot, we can tuning it to run a little bit higher.

    All the eMMC modules are equipped with Foresee high performance eMMC(from Samsung actually). You can get >150MB/s read even with 8GB size.

    Although we support the 7inch PI display. The 2lanes PI MIPI is a disaster, there is very very few 2lanes MIPI display on the market and the resolution is limited too.

    ROCK Pi 4 has the highest performance/price rate on the market with sincerity from the Radxa Team. We are making friends not making money. We want to get more people involved by providing some good low cost boards because the whole arm linux eco system is far from satisfaction.

    1. A BoM question I’d understand if you chose not to answer: are you getting better prices from Foresee on those memories than from their respective vendors?

  3. Making a sbc like this using the upcoming Amlogic S922X would be a better SBC. S922X supposedly supports all HDR formats, supports HDMI 2.1, uses quad cortex a73+dual a53 and mali g52. Amlogic has better open source support at the moment too although rockchip is improving.

    1. Where are you getting your information on the Amlogic s922?

      I duck duck go’ed for a while and found very scant public information available re the s922.

  4. “I am not sure any board will capture the imagination like the Raspberry Pi.”

    Paying $35 for a slow outdated board doesn’t capture my imagination.

    1. It should! You need a lot of imagination to see CPU performance, power supply stability, fully transparent CPU frequency scaling, gigabit ethernet, crypto extensions, complete sources, etc… 🙂

      1. Who has “complete sources”? Certainly not rpi, who pretend to have an open source GPU driver by implementing the driver in a firmware blob and providing an open source shim that doesn’t actually do anything.

  5. Don’t buy Radxa products. They do not have support. I bought Radxa Rock (their first board) and got no support after couple of months. They do not update the OS etc either.

    1. And which board maker has such support? Now they (Radxa) are trying to get (official) Armbian support which tends to supports hardware years after they are released. Software support might be much more expensive than designing, manufacturing and selling hardware! That’s why they (other hw makers as well) can’t give you top shit OS with updates, LTS … for the price you paid for. Armbian and similar projects are your only chance for better software support since most of the work is done for free. Linux is a community project so ask yourself what you are truly paying for when you buy a board that “runs Linux”.

      1. Friendlyelec, 96boards and also Amlogic getting Linux drivers for their SoC, do try. Not perfect, but improving on the past. Arm is a pain regard easily available Linux GPU drivers which support all features. Arm need a better affordable GPU driver model i would suggest.

        1. FWIW: The 96boards “Rock960” is essentially the same board as the RockPi4. Same schematics, same names on the schematics and on the source code, they even boot off each other’s firmware.

    2. Something happened to Radxa company in early 2016 and the company was acquired by another big OEM in Shenzhen. Radxa project was revived in 2018 by introducing ROCK Pi 4. We will continue support old models in the future. Please stay tunned.

      1. Tom, Debashis De has a point: many of us spent $100 on the original Radxa Rock, only to find it totally unsupported and, well, as useless as a rock.

        Here’s an idea to get some of us original performance enthusiasts back: simply swap out our old Rocks for a Rock 4 B (perhaps charging us something for shipping), and let us have at it. I for one would jump at the opportunity.

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